Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Years
2017 2018 2019 2020
Previous Archive
17 April 2019 | Story Leonie Bolleurs
Science ambassadors
Friends Tekano Mbonani and Chaka Mofokeng are pursuing graduate degrees in respectively Physics at the University of the Free State (UFS) and Astronomy at the University of the Western Cape. The two got together and decided to reach out to the high school, Leseding Technical Secondary School, where they came from.

It was a full house as more than 120 learners packed the hall at the Leseding Technical Secondary School in the Free State, where two young Astronomy researchers had come home to tell their younger peers about their studies and career prospects across South Africa.

Chaka Mofokeng and Tekano Mbonani are both former learners at the high school. Currently pursuing graduate degrees – for Mbonani in Physics at the University of the Free State (UFS), and for Mofokeng in Astronomy at the University of the Western Cape – the two friends got together and decided to reach out to the high school where they came from.

The event took place in January before schoolwork, tests, and exam preparations are occupying learners’ minds, inviting them to think about the big picture – the future, and how to be part of it. This is timely, because in July last year, the MeerKAT radio telescope was inaugurated in the Karoo. The MeerKAT is the first step to the international SKA telescope project, but it is already one of the best radio telescopes in the world and has placed South Africa firmly on the world map of radio astronomy and engineering.

Building a bridge
“This project enables us to build a bridge between secondary and tertiary institutions. Currently focused on senior secondary students, we aim to promote science through outreach events and activities. Using science and technology-based activities and events, such as stargazing at an observatory or exploring the universe in a planetarium, we want to attract these future secondary graduates. We also provide mentorship, hoping to help them improve their academic performance in matric,” said Mbonani.

For a whole morning, they spoke about their journeys, about science, about the skills that scientists acquire during their studies and all the opportunities such studies open up in an era where the 4th Industrial Revolution is predicted to reduce the number of jobs in many traditional professions. They addressed their peers in both English and Sesotho.

Astronomy in South Africa contributes to critical-skills development. Investing in the MeerKAT, for example, meant that over a thousand bursaries were made available through the SKA South Africa Human Capacity Development programme. Young scientists like Mofokeng and Mbonani have the opportunity to be part of MeerKAT science projects through their studies, using machine learning and other skills that are high in demand in today’s world. This was one of the messages they brought home.

Gaining new skills

“As an Astronomy research student, I have gained skills such as data analysis, mathematical modelling, communication and writing, programming, and teamwork, among others. These are requirements for most companies and institutions. With the unfolding of the 4th Industrial Revolution, such skills sets make young and aspiring scientists the perfect candidates for making the most of future opportunities,” reflected Mofokeng.

Most of the learners said they have never attended a science-outreach event. They were inspired by the young scientists’ stories and nearly half of them said they could see themselves pursuing a career in science. The learners also expressed a strong interest in more events of this kind, as well as mentorship during Grades 11 and 12 from peers at university. They asked about the salaries earned by astronomers, how long the studies take, and where astronomers are working in South Africa.

This initiative, started by two bright young scientists, hopefully marks the beginning of many more events of this kind. Mofokeng and Mbonani are already planning what to do on their next trip home.

News Archive

Law postgraduate student awarded IAWJ and Faculty of Law bursary
2017-03-02

Description: Association of women judges gala dinner 2017 Tags: Association of women judges gala dinner 2017


The University of the Free State Faculty of Law, in conjunction with the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) South Africa Chapter, hosted a gala dinner on 25 February 2017, in Bloemfontein, to raise awareness on the development programmes that women judges in South Africa, and specifically in the Free State, are involved in.

Focus on development of upcoming legal professionals
The event was a glamorous occasion attended by high-ranking officials in the Free State judiciary and Faculty of Law staff and students. Central to the evening’s events was the launch and presentation of the IAWJ/UFS Faculty of Law bursary that was presented to Mbali Mathebula, who is enrolled for an LLM at the UFS in 2017. Judge Mahube Molemela, Judge-President of the Free State High Court, and Chancellor of the Central University of Technology (CUT), presented the bursary to Mbali, commending her for choosing a poignant research thesis that focused on the rights of children with disabilities in South Africa. Judge Molemela expressed the importance of perseverance through study, and self-development as the key to a successful career in Law.

Transformation in the legal profession still a challenge
Some of the speakers of the evening included Prof Caroline Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty of Law and programme director, Judge Soma Naidoo, who gave introductory remarks, and Judge Mandisa Maya. In her remarks, Judge Maya outlined some of the prevailing challenges that women judicial officers still face, despite decades of reforms in the legal profession. She said: “Women in the judiciary are torchbearers who inspire and empower others, especially young women, and should strive to achieve high moral standards and exceptional scholarship.”

IAWJ mentors upcoming legal professionals
Judge Naidoo said the association had, over the past seven years, partnered with universities such as UFS, University of Pretoria (UP), University of South Africa (Unisa) and University of Cape Town (UCT) to support students through social outreach programmes. She noted the involvement of corporates and other legal professionals as key to their success. Judge Naidoo said the IAWJ had been instrumental in providing training for legal professionals in areas such as trafficking in persons across the Southern African Development Community (SADC), supported by the US Embassy in Pretoria, and had held health and wellness programmes for legal officers around the country.

The gala dinner was a celebration of the successes of the association over the years, and an opportunity to reflect on the important issues that women face in the legal profession, as well as a call to action for students and young legal professionals. The proceeds from the evening will be used to further mentor and develop law students around the country.

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept